You don't want an economic disaster on your hands. Not when you could have prevented it. And not in times that are already the worst in a generation.

But that's exactly what you'll have — and more — if one of the three Detroit automakers goes belly-up for lack of a government-backed loan. There will be economic hell to pay — not just in Detroit, but all across America, including in your state, in your district.

The loss of jobs, the devastated retirements, the massive loss of health care coverage, the sharp drop in local tax revenues, the closings of supplier and ancillary businesses — all would be calamitous in the best of times. And these are not that. Just ask the people you represent.

More than 3 million jobs are at stake in the industry. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are threaded in the fabric of businesses in every state across America.

A failure of one or more of the automakers would deepen the country's worst recession in 27 years, and it could take decades to rebuild the nation's industrial base, which will atrophy like an unused limb without the muscle-flexing of Detroit's automakers.

Who will buy the rubber, plastics, copper and computer chips that Americans make? Who will need all the tool and die shop workers, mold makers or software engineers who help drive the small-business economy in so many states?

You don't want all this blood on your hands. No one could.

Because the losses from an auto industry failure are about more than dry statistics. Every job associated with the industry is a family, a home, a college education, a cancer treatment or a secure retirement. Every one of those jobs is about someone making a living doing work that's vital to the nation's economic interests.

No one knows more than the people of Michigan how precious those jobs are, or how fragile they've become in a cutthroat global economy where so many countries prop up their own auto industries.

Know that the people of Michigan, and especially those who toil for the automakers, are as angry as anyone over the string of misjudgments, failures and bad decisions that contributed to the industry's woes. No one here is enthused about the idea of extending government money to a private industry with so many self-inflicted wounds. But the automakers deserve credit for real gains, including products on par with their world rivals and plants that operate among the best in the business.

Remember, too, that Detroit helped rescue America as the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II and, through GM's no-interest loans, helped jump-start the battered economy after 9/11. Now, when our automakers and autoworkers need a hand up, will America really turn its back?

The Detroit automakers are hemorrhaging cash to stay in business. Two of them are nearly drained, and the third is getting by on a transfusion. They can get well. They have shown how. But first they have to survive. And their survival is in America's best interests.

You can help them. And if you don't, make no mistake: There will be bleeding throughout the land."

This editiorial appeared in the Detroit Free Press, December 4, 2008

How to Contact Congress:

U.S. House of Representatives

To phone or send a letter, go to www.house.gov and click on “Member Telephone Directory.” To send an e-mail, go to https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

U.S. Senate

To phone, e-mail or send mail, go to http://www.senate.gov and click on “Senators.”


A few old barns, here.


A Bridge to Bankruptcy

Briefly, a report on the October 14, 2008 Township Board of Trustees Meeting:

Township Citizens overwhelmingly supported the DDA.

Township Citizens, 100% in fact, rejected the DDA plans for assuming $28 million in debt for a bridge or $15 million for water treatment.

By fantastic coincidence, immediately before the meeting each of our Township Trustees received a letter from the firm which handled Meijers' side of the Preliminary Site Plan lawsuit.  The firm has threatened to sue Northfield Township, and to sweeten the deal, has threatened to sue our Trustees individually as well, for damages real or imagined, unless the DDA is forced to complete certain unspecified plans and fulfill certain unspecified promises. 

May we presume that this includes the funding and building of the Territorial Road Overpass which has been rejected, in toto, by every Township citizen present at Tuesday's meeting?

Good luck explaining that away, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wellings.


Farmer in Chief: a letter to our next President of the United States

Published: October 9, 2008, The New York Times

"Dear Mr. President-Elect,

"It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. ...

"With a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

"Rich or poor, countries struggling with soaring food prices are being forcibly reminded that food is a national-security issue. When a nation loses the ability to substantially feed itself, it is not only at the mercy of global commodity markets but of other governments as well. At issue is not only the availability of food, which may be held hostage by a hostile state, but its safety: as recent scandals in China demonstrate, we have little control over the safety of imported foods.

“In America, ... we have only about two million farmers left.… Farmland is being lost to development at a rate of 2,880 acres per day…. Nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil do.

"But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food.”

Read the full article here.



Dude, Where's My Township?


They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security,
       deserve neither liberty nor security

- Benjamin Franklin

What's going to bring back Michigan's Economy? 

Bringing back Michigan's jobs.

Sky high shipping costs are fueling the return to North America of jobs once thought lost forever to India and China.

Today's story: "Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization."

Today's McMansions / Tomorrow's McTenements?

Welcome to the 21st Century. 

The SubPrime mortgage fiasco has undermined our financial system. We have been forced to re-examine our love affair with credit.   Gasoline prices are soaring.   Commuting long distances to work no longer makes sense.

How will this impact suburban property values and property development in the years to come?

Find out in The Next Slum?, Christopher Leinberger's examination of suburban flight, published in the March, 2008 Atlantic Monthly, which you can read here.

Drive a MicroCar - Save Gas:

Bruce Weiner's MicroCar Museum

Supervisor Cicchella Wins US-23 Corridor Study Funding from State, Gov. Granholm. 

"Ronald DeCook, director of the office of Governmental Affairs for the Michigan Department of Transportation, presented a check Thursday to local officials gathered at the US-23 rest stop south of the North Territorial Road interchange."

"Northfield Township Supervisor Michael Cicchella, who last fall organized a coalition of communities along the route to try to get the project started again, said the new push to study the corridor is the result of the coalition's efforts."

"I'm also pleased to see that we're going to look at all the alternatives to reduce some of the congestion on US-23," Cicchella said."

- from John Mulcahy's August 11, 2007 Ann Arbor News story, "State approves funding for US-23 study."

Michigan Property Taxes too High - Non-partisan Study Shows

"Michigan's taxes on general sales and personal income are lower - not, as is so often claimed, higher - than the national average.  Michigan ranks 36th on individual income taxes and 29th on sales taxes."

"But, with property taxes, the picture changes dramatically."

- from "Non Partisan Study packs a Surprise," by Charlene Crowell, Great Lakes Bulletin News Service, July 5, 2006.    Click here for the full article.

Related Stories:

"Subsidizing Development by Increasing Property Taxes," by the Washtenaw Land Trust.  Click here for the full article.

"Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense - and Stick You with the Bill," by David Cay Johnston, Portfolio Press, 2007.  ( I will lend this book to anyone who would like to read it.)

Suggestions?  Submissions?  Click Here.